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Coconut oil & Gastritis/GERD

by (1219)
Updated about 21 hours ago
Created March 10, 2010 at 7:09 PM

Coconut oil is a great source of medium chain saturated fats. I tried to make it a mainstay of my diet, but it gave me terrible gastritis/GERD. Anybody else?

More details that may be relevant: I ate a LOT of coconut oil (3-5 tablespoons/day maybe) over a period of a few months before I ran into trouble. My discomfort started with viciously caustic burps/reflux, but progressed to a chronic intense gastritis/ulcer pain. It took a few weeks before I figured out it was the coconut oil that was causing the pain (as so many things in my diet/regimen have changed recently), but now I am nearly 100% confident it was the coconut oil. I take PPIs as I have serious damage from years of pre-paleo GERD. However, even profound acid suppression (80 mg nexium + zantac) did not help with the irritation that coconut oil caused. I have no symptoms without coconut oil. I also do not have any tree nut allergies, or any other food allergies, that I am aware of.

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4359 · February 12, 2012 at 8:35 PM

My Barrett's seems to have gone away actually. It could be sampling error but last scope (about 1 month ago) couldn't find any BE with 6 samples in the distal 2cms. Btw, I went off the PPI about 1.5 yers ago and have been limiting my reflux by liming FODMAPs and by taking betaine HCL occasionally.

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1638 · October 13, 2010 at 3:09 PM

(continued) The standard suggestions about apple cider vinegar or digestive enzymes don't help and there is only so far I will carry this because the possibile consequences are so serious. I just try and obtain the best nutrition that I can and work with the situation I've got. And Jay, that means that I also limit the amount of coconut oil/milk because you are not the first to mention problems with consuming large amounts

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1638 · October 13, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Unfortunately, from everything that I have been able to find out, once the tissue changes associated with Barrett's have occurred they will not revert back to normal healthy cells. Even primal/paleo-friendly digestive specialists seem to agree that if you have Barrett's you are probably stuck w/the PPIs to prevent further damage and possible cancer. So, as Jay said, for us the "stakes are higher". I changed my diet back in February but - unlike some people - it has basically made no difference in my GERD. One day w/o the PPI and heartburn is back with a vengeance. (continued below)

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1219 · March 11, 2010 at 3:21 PM

Appreciate you sharing your experience with me. Thanks.

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1219 · March 11, 2010 at 3:20 PM

Thank you. I think your insight is very valuable. Eating fats separately may make sense for me. I also have barrett's esophagus, with the result that the stakes are slightly higher for me, so I am reluctant to give up PPIs because the balance of data suggest they are slightly chemopreventative for people with BE... I wish I coudl go back in time to before I got BE and never get on the PPI wagon though...

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1137 · March 11, 2010 at 12:51 AM

Great post, Melissa. Yes, PPI's or acid reducers, are very bad. My experience: I took them for a long time, like 10 years, and they completely screwed up my immune system. I take a probiotic every morning, use diluted ACV as a general tonic, and drink Kombucha occasionally - not for GERD, but just for general gut health. (The GERD has been gone for 6 months - since eliminating gluten) I won't touch a PPI ever again.)

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78422 · March 11, 2010 at 12:17 AM

Many sympathies Jay. I'd listen to Melissa- she has been there and done that. Try the apple cider vinegar drink- I have used that for temporary problems and it worked.

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1137 · March 10, 2010 at 10:30 PM

Perhaps you are allergic to coconut?

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1219 · March 10, 2010 at 10:14 PM

Thanks. I'm pretty sure it's not the brand, as I use different brands (jarrow, nutiva, etc) and have the same problem with coconut milk...

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1219 · March 10, 2010 at 10:13 PM

That's a very good question, but the answer is no, I have no issues with other fats. Also, I am already more or less gluten free and have tested negative for celiac anyway... I have tried different brands and the problem persists. I even have a problem with coconut milk. I think there is just something about the way I react to coconut fat...

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1219 · March 10, 2010 at 10:12 PM

That's a very good question, but the answer is no, I have no issues with other fats. Also, I am already more or less gluten free and have tested negative for celiac anyway... I have tried different brands and the problem persists. I even have a problem with coconut milk. I think there is just something about the way I react to.

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1137 · March 10, 2010 at 8:05 PM

What about other fats, like butter and other oils? Do they bother you? (I am asking as I had huge problems digesting fat, and docs thought it was gall bladder issues and GERD. Went on Nexium for a while, etc. It turned out to be gluten intolerance. Common occurance, I later learned.) About a month after eliminating gluten, I was able to eat sat fats without distress. But it took me about 6 months to be able to take fish oil caps.) Are you aware of any food intolerances? Have you changed brands? Do you eat it on an empty stomach? Sorry for all the ????'s!

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10 Answers

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56616 · March 10, 2010 at 11:06 PM

I had a problem with coconut irritating my stomach for some time when I started paleo. I left it out for a few months and then added it back in without problems. Science is now showing GERD is an immune system problem. Probably like other such problems it's an issue of your immune system being like OMGWIEUHYWKEUWHQIUWEHWIQWE and attacking things that aren't causing the problem in the first place.

PPIs are seriously bad news and now that they know that GERD isn't an issue of tissue damage like they used to think, you should consider not taking them. They alter the digestive immune system in ways that are probably no good- affecting mineral absorption and predisposing you to infections are just two known problems. The burps, which I also had, are probably caused by some bacteria that have no business in your stomach, but have taken up residence thanks to PPIs lowering the acidity. Us humans evolved stomach acidity for a very good reason!

It took my several long painful months to get off them, with the aid of taking kombucha or apple cider vinegar after every meal. It was worth it! During the GERD recovery period I kept it simple though and eliminated all borderline foods: tubers, nightshades, caffeine, etc. I now have NO food intolerances and happily down tabasco sauce and other borderline foods I wouldn't have touched with a five foot stick before.

ALso, did you eat the coconut with other things? One thing that I found can help GERD is to eat fats separately from your other foods. Fats slow down digestion and if accompanied by other foods that bacteria love, that means some not so fun fermentation in your tummy.

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1137 · March 11, 2010 at 12:51 AM

Great post, Melissa. Yes, PPI's or acid reducers, are very bad. My experience: I took them for a long time, like 10 years, and they completely screwed up my immune system. I take a probiotic every morning, use diluted ACV as a general tonic, and drink Kombucha occasionally - not for GERD, but just for general gut health. (The GERD has been gone for 6 months - since eliminating gluten) I won't touch a PPI ever again.)

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1219 · March 11, 2010 at 3:20 PM

Thank you. I think your insight is very valuable. Eating fats separately may make sense for me. I also have barrett's esophagus, with the result that the stakes are slightly higher for me, so I am reluctant to give up PPIs because the balance of data suggest they are slightly chemopreventative for people with BE... I wish I coudl go back in time to before I got BE and never get on the PPI wagon though...

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3651 · March 10, 2010 at 7:37 PM

So far no GERD for me since going Paleo. I use to get it in association with alcohol consumption, sugars and carbs -- particularly whole grains back before paleo.

I get about a tablespoon minimum of coconut oil a day without GERD symptoms. I will keep on the look out tho.

Could it be your brand? There are many ways it can be processed I believe...

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1219 · March 10, 2010 at 10:14 PM

Thanks. I'm pretty sure it's not the brand, as I use different brands (jarrow, nutiva, etc) and have the same problem with coconut milk...

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20 · October 13, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Lecithin to Help Coconut Oil Gastritis

I had the same problem with gastritis from coconut oil. At first I thought perhaps I burned my stomach from too hot food but this wasn't it because my throat wasn't burned. I take the oil 1 tablespoon 3x/day q8 hours along with three other supplements as part of the BALI proocol for L-form bacterial infections to boost my immune system because I appear to have a chronic bartonella spp. infection in L-form which suppresses the immune system and is very hard to shake.

Today I decided to test an idea. Yesterday I purchased lecithin granules so I ate half of the oil on brussel sprouts, started to get the gastritis, then I mixed 1 teaspoon of granulated lecithin (no soybean oil in it) in about 5 oz of water and drank it. Within 5 minutes my gastritis was better. I finished the oil with no problems.

Apparently the lecithin emulsifies the fat very quickly so that the lining of the stomach doesn't get irritated and cause gastritis. This is similar to enteric coating of drugs so it allows the oil to get absorbed in the intestine and get to the target white blood cells without irritating the stomach.

Good luck.

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337 · March 25, 2010 at 9:24 PM

I had similar symptoms one morning when I made a milkshake using an entire can of coconut milk (70 grams of fat by the label). I figured it was just because of eating too much fat all at once, but maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was from coconut. Either way, it's not an experiment I want to replicate.

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425 · March 10, 2010 at 10:15 PM

I experienced this as well, when I got to around 4 Tablespoons a day. I was also consuming about 5 egg yolks per day and overall 80% calories as fat. I cut the fat % back to 70 and it went away.

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1219 · March 11, 2010 at 3:21 PM

Appreciate you sharing your experience with me. Thanks.

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0 · August 23, 2013 at 4:12 PM

For the people who've had problems with it, how long did it take for the irritation that coconut caused to heal? Was it immediately after stopping it, or did it take a few weeks/months to heal the irritation. I think coconut oil may have caused me slight irritation... I think that slight irritation was made worse when I started supplementing with Papaya (which contains protease and can irritate the stomach also).

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109 · March 08, 2013 at 1:09 PM

So I was just diagnosed with silent reflux and told to limit high fat foods. I've been pretty strict Paleo for more than 2 years and never had any problems with reflux before (am 59 yr male). I do use coconut oil and milk regularly. Figure I would stop coconut milk for a bit, but was unsure if coconut oil is considered a high fat food. I am confused as most people on here suggest Paleo diet cures their reflux. For me it seems to have caused it-- or at least something related has as my diet hasn't changed much these past 2 years. Biggest change was eating more carbs--sweet potatoes and rice mainly.

So thought I would chime in here as no one responded to my post on silent reflux.

Any suggestions/advice?

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11682 · March 08, 2013 at 1:16 AM

I have trouble with coconut flour and cream (gerd, gastro issues, as you do). But I can tolerate coconut oil and milk. Others, can tolerate all of these, and others can't tolerate any of these. I haven't tried coconut sugar and coconut aminos.

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0 · March 08, 2013 at 1:05 AM

I have been taking PPI's for about 1-1/2 years after severe sore throat. Nexium worked for some time, then I changed to Losac which seems better for me. Sometimes my stool appears yellow in colour, whih can be a cause for concern. Two weeks ago I started taking d-limonene and wow...major relief of acid reflux and my stool returned to a healthy colour. Has anyone else used d-limonene for gerd issues ?

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0 · March 23, 2010 at 9:19 PM

Jay, I would be very curious to see how your Barrett's looks after 6-12 months of grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free. You can have it monitored more frequently with Transnasal esophagoscopy if you ever decided to go off your PPI.

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1638 · October 13, 2010 at 3:09 PM

(continued) The standard suggestions about apple cider vinegar or digestive enzymes don't help and there is only so far I will carry this because the possibile consequences are so serious. I just try and obtain the best nutrition that I can and work with the situation I've got. And Jay, that means that I also limit the amount of coconut oil/milk because you are not the first to mention problems with consuming large amounts

E7a462d6e99fec7e8f0ddda11b34a770
1638 · October 13, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Unfortunately, from everything that I have been able to find out, once the tissue changes associated with Barrett's have occurred they will not revert back to normal healthy cells. Even primal/paleo-friendly digestive specialists seem to agree that if you have Barrett's you are probably stuck w/the PPIs to prevent further damage and possible cancer. So, as Jay said, for us the "stakes are higher". I changed my diet back in February but - unlike some people - it has basically made no difference in my GERD. One day w/o the PPI and heartburn is back with a vengeance. (continued below)

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94
4359 · February 12, 2012 at 8:35 PM

My Barrett's seems to have gone away actually. It could be sampling error but last scope (about 1 month ago) couldn't find any BE with 6 samples in the distal 2cms. Btw, I went off the PPI about 1.5 yers ago and have been limiting my reflux by liming FODMAPs and by taking betaine HCL occasionally.

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